University Track and Field: 1955 – 59

Edinburgh University team, 1950’s.

The 1955 season effectively started with a match between Edinburgh University and Glasgow University at Craiglockhart with the home team winning 68 points to 50.   A second team contest between the same two universities at Westerlands was also won by Edinburgh by 48 points to 40.   The report on the first team match read: “CAR Dennis (Edinburgh) won three events in an athletics match between Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities at Craiglockhart on Saturday.  Dennis won the 120 yards hurdles, the 440 yards hurdles and the discus. I Stuart (Glasgow) an inter-universities champion, clocked 1 min 55.4 sec in winning the half-mile – probably the fastest time for the distance recorded at the ground.   HM Murray (Edinburgh ) established a University record for the hop, step and jump with 45′ 4 1/2″.   Miss W Bowden (Edinburgh) won four of the women’s events – 100 yards, 220 yards, 550 yards and 80 metres hurdles.”

There were several other good performances from both teams – for Edinburgh JV Paterson won the 440 yards in 50.3,   Adrian Jackson won the Mile in 4:22 and DWR MacKenzie won the javelin; while for Glasgow G Robertson won the 100 yards and the 220 yards, J Finlayson won the Three Miles, W Little won the high jump, R Akpatu won the long jump C Orr won the pole vault.   On the women’s side, Bowden was the outstanding athlete with R Charters, also Edinburgh, winning discus and shot.   

Glasgow regained some pride when on 14th May they took on St Andrews and Queen’s Universities at Westerlands and defeated them both comfortably – 25 points separating Glasgow from second placed Queen’s.   Top performances for the men came from Alan Dunbar (G) 100 yards in 10.3, 880 yards where I Stuart and H Stewart (Q) tied in 1:58, W Little won the high jump with 6′ 0″; while for the women, L Barr (G) won both sprints and T Hopkins (Q) won five events – 80m hurdles, high jump, long jump, javelin and shot.   Thelma Hopkins was of course the reigning European and Empire high jump champion and a high quality all-round athlete and she pretty well won the women’s contest for Queen’s all on her own!   On the same day, Watsonians defeated Edinburgh University B team at Myreside by 38 points to 36.

On 21st May 1955 at the White City in Manchester, the Universities Athletic Union held their annual championships and several Scots performed well there.   I Stuart in the half-mile was second in 1:57.3 to DCE Gorrie (Oxford) ran 1:52.8 – he too was a Scot and went on to set a Scottish record for the distance. Adrian Jackson was second in the Three Miles,  Alan Dunbar was third in the 100 yards which was won in 10.0 seconds and James Paterson was third in the 440 yards behind J Wrighton in 49.4 seconds.   In the field events, R McG (Bob) Stephen (G) was runner-up in the hop, step and jump with 44′ 7″.

On the same day there was a Glasgow v Aberdeen match at Westerlands where there was no lack of quality.   Judge for yourself.   “Although weakened by the absence of their sprinters, quarter miler and half miler, Glasgow University did not experience any problems : they won the men’s contest by 63 1/2 points to 38 1/2 and the women’s by 49 to 19.   The performances were on the whole only moderate except in the quarter mile and Mile in which Aberdeen students J Pringle and A Wood recorded the fine times of 52.5 and 4:30.5 respectively.   D Ariyanayagam (G) certainly warmed up the pace for Pringle in the quarter mile, but the latter’s powerful striding action soon wore down his rival and he won by six yards.   

In the Mile, J Finlayson (G) was expected to give a good account of himself , but Wood showed better pace over the journey than ever before and won practically as he pleased.   A dual winner in the women’s events was Miss L Barr (G).   Her 12.7 for the 100 yards and 29.2 for the furlong were commonplace but the conditions were by no means good.  Miss Barr later helped her team win the relay.”   

And in Edinburgh the University defeated Stewart’s College in a six event match.

28th May was the day for the Universities individual championships with Glasgow and Edinburgh both deciding who the event champions were.   In Glasgow Alan Dunbar was surprisingly beaten by JGR Robertson in both short sprints, Ian Stuart did not contest the half mile choosing instead to run in the quarter where he was second to DP Marshall.   Other titles went to J Finlayson (Mile), R Stephen (both jumps for distance), W Little (high jump), Robertson added the shot title to his sprints, WJ More won the discus and B Kirkland won the javelin.   On the women’s side of things, L Barr won three events – the sprints and the long jump.

James V Paterson, Edinburgh University


In Edinburgh at their championships, top man was DWR McKenzie who set a new Scottish native record for the javelin of 204′ 11″ .   On the track JV Paterson set a record in the half-mile of 1:57.8.   CAR Dennis had four wins this time – 220 yards, both hurdles races and the discus, Adrian Jackson won the Three Miles in 14:58.9.   

The result of all this preparation was seen in the Universities team championships on 4th June: Edinburgh won both men’s and women’s championships.   In the men’s contest they had 87 points with second placed Glasgow on 71, and in the women’s they had 42 points, ten more than nearest challengers, Glasgow.   In the actual competition, CAR Dennis had three victories: he won both hurdles races and the discus.   His 120y time of 15.5 sec equalled the championship record.   GR Robertson (G) won both short sprints (10.0 and 22.2), JV Paterson (E) won the quarter mile (51.8), I Stuart (G) took the half mile title (2:00.5), Adrian Jackson won both Mile and Three miles (4:32.3 and 15:11.8).   DWR McKenzie won the javelin fairly comfortably.

The Atalanta Club consisting of the athletes past and present of the four ancient universities of Scotland, had a match on 11th June against the Christie Club (an imitation of the Achilles and Atalanta clubs) representing Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester Universities at Westerlands.   There were many excellent performances – JV Paterson set a ground record for the 440 yards of 50.1 seconds, DWR McKenzie in the javelin with a best of 199′ 10″, Alistair Wood set a new pb in the Mile of 4:16 when finishing third, Finlayson ran 14:35.1 in the Three Miles when finishing second and Dennis won both hurdles races.   The SAAA Championships took place on the last Saturday in June and the big surprise in thefield events was the second place in the javelin of DWR McKenzie behind Fraser Riach (JTC).   The other University men placed were Paterson who was just edged out by Bobby Quinn of Victoria Park on the line at the end of the quarter, Donald Gorrie from Oxford beat I Stewart of GUAC in the half mile, Adrian Jackson and Alistair Wood were second and third to Graham Everett in the Mile, CAR Dennis won the hurdles events, Little took the high jump, Stephen and Akpata (both Glasgow University) were second and third in the long jump with Stephen winning the hop, step and jump.    However the gold medal won in 1955 at the World Student Games in San Sebastian by Adrian Jackson in a time of 15:04.4 was probably the best individual performance of the year.   If we move from domestic student track running to cross country for a moment and look at another two of Jackson’s results we can get an idea of just how good this runner really was.   First, in  the same year (1955) he won the Universities Athletic Union cross-country championship which had been held in a course over Wimbledon Common.   He finished 31 seconds clear of the defending champion.   Second, in 1956, in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Jackson won an invitation 5000m race in 14:13.6.   Two years previously in the same stadium Emil Zatopek had won the Olympic 5000m race in 14:06.6.   In that particular final, Gordon Pirie had been fourth in 14:18 and Chris Chataway fifth in 14:18.2.   These three results indicate the quality of Jackson’s running.   

Paterson was again the hero on 23rd July at Linksfield Park, Aberdeen when he set a stadium record and equalled the Scottish native record of 1:53.4 when he won the half mile but could only finish third behind Quinn (VPAAC) and Martineau (Aberdeen) in the quarter.   At the end of the year the principal university track men ranked in the top ten of their event were 

event name university performance rank
100y JGR Robertson Glasgow 10.0 2nd
100y AS Dunbar Glasgow 10.1 3rd
100y KA Robertson Edinburgh 10.1
220y JGR Robertson Glasgow 22.2 2nd
220y AS Dunbar Glasgow 22.5 5th
440y JV Paterson Edinburgh 53.6 1st
880y JV Paterson 1:53.6 2nd
880y IM Stuart Glasgow 1:54.4 3rd

The 1956 season started for real on 5th May when Glasgow took on Edinburgh at Westerlands for the Appleton Trophy.   Edinburgh won the men’s match by 76 to 42 but the Glasgow  women won by 35 1/2 to 31 1/2 points.   There were three double event winners – JG Robertson (G) won 100y and 220y, CAR Dennis (E) won the 120y hurdles and the 440y races and A Dow (E) won javelin and hammer.   Paterson and Jackson won the 880 and Mile races for Edinburgh and Peter Ballance won the Three Miles for Glasgow.   There were two double winners in the women’s competition – A McKinnon (G) won both 100y and 220y with R Charters (E)  was runner up in each but also won the shot and discus,

The following Saturday at Craiglockhart there was a match between what were recognised as Scotland’s two strongest clubs – Edinburgh University and Victoria Park AAC.   The close contest was won by Edinburgh with 60 points to Victoria Park’s 58 over 17 events.   The Empire Games champion Ken Wilmshurst from England won three events (long jump, hop, step and jump, 120y hurdles) for Victoria Park while he was in Scotland for five weeks for business.   Otherwise doubles were scored by JV Paterson (quarter and half miles), W McNeish of VPAAC won shot and discus.   There were very good performances all round by some excellent athletes,  eg. Ronnie Whitelock (V) won the 100y, WH Watson (E) won the mile, Ian Binnie had a brilliant run in the Three Miles which he won in 13:58.9, the third fastest of his career and W Piper (V) won the high jump with 6′ 1″.   

On 18th May both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities held their own championships, and St Andrews had a match against Edinburgh Southern and Shettleston Harriers.   At the Glasgow championships, sprint champion JGR Robertson was suffering from a thigh strain so he passed on the sprinting but won medals in two events nevertheless – first in the discus and second in the shot.   The sprints titles wen to RM Beaton (100 yards) and Dickson (220).   Beaton had two seconds too, the 220 yards and the 440 yards which was a hard fought affair against R Cairney.   McFarlane won the 880, Ballance the Mile (he had won the Three Miles midweek) and in the hurdles, W Beresford was triumphant in both.   Little won the high jump, Akpata the long jump and Sephen the hop, step and jump.   In the women’s events, LCJ Barr had three wins – 100 yards, 220 yards and long jump.  At Craiglockhart, A Hannah won three hurdles championships – 120 yards, 220 yards and 440 yards hurdles races were all taken.   The strength of the Edinburgh middle distance events was seen when JV Paterson won the 440y (49.6) and 880y (1:57.5) in record times, WH Watson won the Mile in 4:19 (a meeting record) and Adrian Jackson took the Three Miles (14:35.5 – another record time).   Mensah, Leitch and Murray won the high, long and hop, step and jump, with Findlay, Lunde and Dennis taking the shot, javelin and discus.   P Robinson won the women’s 100y, 220y and long jump and J Morrison won the 440y and high jump.   In the inter-club with Edinburgh Southern and Shettleston there were some notable performances by St Andrews athletes – W McDonald won both sprints, P Kirch won the shot, EL McKenzie the javelin and their team won the 4 x 110 relay.

In the British Universities Championships the following week, Adrian Jackson was one of two Scottish winners when he won the Three Miles in 14:05.2; the other winner was IS Bain of Oxford University in the hammer.   Bob Stephen (G) was second in the hop, step and jump, DWR McKenzie (E) had a second in the javelin and AS Dunbar (G) third in the 100y.   St Andrews took on Jordanhill TC and Tubingen University from Germany in a triangular competition at Jordanhill and was third of the three teams.   W McDonald (StA) was runner-up in both sprints, but A McAdam from the University had three wins to celebrate – 440y, 880y and 440y hurdles.   There were two double winners in the women’s events, both by St Andrews athletes.   F Franklin won the 100 and 220, V Menzies won the shot and discus events.   

On 2nd June the Scottish Universities championship was held at St Andrews and as expected Edinburgh won by an even bigger margin than heretofore: 93 points to Glasgow’s 58 with St Andrews 18 and Aberdeen 15.   In the women’s competition, Glasgow’s 47 beat Edinburgh’s 334, Aberdeen’s 16 and St Andrews 10.   Three Edinburgh students had double wins : JV Paterson (440 in 51.1 from team mate CAR Dennis; and 880 in 1:58.7), WH Watson (Mile in 4:34.3; and Three Miles in 16:04.3) and A Hannah (120y hurdles in 15 sec, and 440y hurdles in 58.2).    Glasgow’s Robertson won both sprints with Robertson and Sutherland of Ediburgh second and third in them both.   In the field events, Lunde (G) pole vault and javelin with second in the long jump, Stephen (G) won the long jump and was second in the hop, step and jump, Little (G) won the high jump and Dow of Edinburgh won the hammer.   In the women’s events, Barr (G) won three events (100y, 220y and long jump), and D Will (A) set a new record of 109′ 8 1/2″ in the discus.    

It had been a good championship and showed the strength of the Edinburgh squad which won handsomely even without the services of Adrian Jackson and with champion hurdler Dennis competing only in field events.   As for the women, Glasgow was the stronger outfit and Barr seemed out on her own as far as the sprints were concerned.

Hunter Watson: 18

The end of year rankings did not show very many university field events athletes at all compared to the track events so it will again be an extract from the track rankings to illustrate the strength of the university runners vis-a-vis the general standards.   AS Dunbar who had run for the University at the start of the year was by now listed as VPAAC (100y)  or JTC  (220y) and was not counted.

Event name university performance rank
220y JGR Robertson Glasgow 22.5 3rd
440y JV Paterson Edinburgh 49.1 1st
440y CAR Dennis Edinburgh 50.8 3rd
880y DCE Gorrie Oxford 1:51.5 1st
880y JV Paterson Edinburgh 1:51.9 2nd
Mile WH Watson Edinburgh 4:14.4 3rd
Mile A Wood Aberdeen 4:15.6 4th
Mile AS Jackson Edinburgh 4:19.3 5th
Two Miles AS Jackson Edinburgh 9:07.9 1st
Three Miles AS Jackson Edinburgh 13:55 1st
120y hurdles A Hannah Edinburgh 15.0 2nd
120y hurdles R McLeod Aberdeen 15.4 3rd
440y hurdles A Hannah Edinburgh 54.5 1st
440y hurdles CAR Dennis Edinburgh 55.7 2nd


4th May, 1957, was the date set for the annual Edinburgh v Glasgow contest for the Appleton Trophy, held at Craiglockhart this time round.   It usually set the tone for the rest of the universities athletics fixtures.   Edinburgh won by 67 to 51 points in the men’s event, and Glasgow won the women’s by 41 to 27.  Similar results but the Edinburgh winning margin was not as big as it had been in 1956.   The report read: 

“The best ‘double’ win of the programme was gained by JV Paterson, Edinburgh, with times of 50.4 for the 440 yards, and  1:55.8 for the 880, and he also led Edinburgh’s successful relay team.   JTA Johnstone, Glasgow, had very creditable wins in the long jump and 120 yards hurdles, surprising his more mature rivals in the latter event and finishing with the splendid time of 15.0 sec.   Two other noteworthy performances were accomplished by A Hannah, Edinburgh, the Scottish national champion, who won the 440 yards hurdles in 56.6, and WH Watson, Edinburgh, who ran the Mile in 4:23.4.

Miss C Martin, Glasgow, Was the only ‘double’ winner in the women’s events with moderate performances of 12.7 for the 100 yards, and 14.2 for the 80 metres hurdles.”

There were several recognisable names among the winners – JGA Robertson, Glasgow, won the 100 yards, KA Robertson, Edinburgh the 220 yards, HM Murray in the hop, step and jump, and RS Scott, Glasgow, in the hammer.   An interesting new name was that of the multi talented J Freebairn who won the high jump and would go on in the sporting sphere to be a noteworthy professional highland games athlete and later Scottish national coach for throwing events.   It promised to be an interesting season.

The following Saturday it was a female athlete who made the big headlines in university athletics – and she wasn’t even Scottish.   It is worth reprinting the entire article.


Miss TE Hopkins, holder of the British women’s high jump record, won five individual events, helped her team win the relay, and broke a ground record on Saturday when when she was a member of the Queen’s University (Belfast) team taking part in a triangular match at St Andrews against the Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow.   There were also three ground records in the men’s events.

Glasgow won the men’s contest with 91 points, Queen’s scoring 46 points and St Andrews 45.   The women’s section was won by Queen’s with 44 1/2 points of which Miss Hopkins scored 25.   St Andrews were runners-up with 38 and Glasgow gained 23 1/2.   Miss Hopkins successes were in the 80m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot putt and javelin.   She has often achieved better figures in all of them – her ground record high jump was only 4′ 10″ – but the conditions were unhelpful.   

Miss R Menzies, St Andrews scored a sprint double but with moderate times,   The best performances in the men’s track events was a 1 min 56.8 half mile – a ground record – by JR Boyd, Glasgow, who promises to be a good rival to the Scottish title holder JV Paterson in the inter-university championships at Aberdeen on June 1st, and the Scottish Championships at Meadowbank on the last Saturday in June.   MM Armour, St Andrews won the shot puttwith 44′ 11″, and the discus with 116′ 2″, a ground record.   The remaining ground record was achieved by R Scott, Glasgow, with a fine hammer throw of 155′ 9″.   JGR Robertson, Glasgow had a sprint ‘double’  for Glasgow.”

Among the remaining Scottish winners were WJ More (Glasgow) in the Mile (4:29), D Johnstone, Glasgow (15:35), A McAdam. Sr Andrews, 440 yards hurdles (59 sec),TA Johnstone, Glasgow high jump (5; 10″ ), E Ericsson, St Andrews, long jump, (24’4 1/2),  G Stalker, Glasgow, hop, step and jump (43′ 5 1/4″) and J Freebairn, Glasgow, pole vault, (10′).

On the same day, a team billed as Edinburgh University B defeated Watson’s College: this ‘B team’ included JV Paterson, reigning SAAA and Scottish Universities champion at both 440 and 880 yards who won the 440, and A Hannah who won the 120 yards hurdles and the 880 yards.    The University won by 54 points to 16.   

The Glasgow Herald report of May 20th:

“JTA Johnstone, Glasgow, formerly of Ardrossan Academy, was in good form despite the poor conditions in the inter-university athletics match between Glasgow and Aberdeen at Westerlands on Saturday.   He won three events and helped the Glasgow team to win the relay.   He won the high jump, long jump and 120y hurdles with creditable performances in the circumstances.   His time for the hurdles of 16 seconds was relatively the better of his performances, and if he could increase his speed towards the “trig” his long jump performance of 20 ft 5 1/2 in could be increased by as much as two feet.   RA Patterson (Strathallan), a former holder of the Scottish Schools and national junior half-mile titles, made all the running in the half-mile winning in the excellent time of 2:04.6.   Aberdeen disappointed, their only success being by B Grassick in the javelin, and the points aggregate in favour of Glasgow was 73 to 23.   

The principal feature of the women’s events was the triple win of Miss V Friel (Glasgow) who won the high and long jumps and the javelin.   The team result was Glasgow 39 1/2 points, Aberdeen 15 1/2 points.”

The times on the day were all slow – R Beaton winning both sprints in 10.9 and 24.4 seconds, the Mile going to D Johnstone in 4:43.5.   There were no women’s races beyond 220 yards and the winning times were outside 13 seconds and 29 seconds.   

On the same afternoon St Andrews had a home match against Shettleston and Edinburgh Southern Harriers which ESH won from St Andrews.   Notable performances by the university were the 100  and 220 yards victories by W McDonald, high jump win by J Oladapo. long jump by S Ericssen, 120 yards hurdles by RK Carruthers, 440 yards hurdles by A McAdam, Hammer and shot putt by MM Armour and the javelin by C McDonald.   

Further down the sports column, with smaller headlines, was the report on the British Universities championship at Reading.   Several Scots did well – DCE Gorrie had the headline for his victory in the 800m in 1:54.2.   JV Paterson was third in the 440 yards with  49.4.   WJ More of Glasgow was fourth in the Mile in a personal best of 4:20.6.   In the field events, R Scott of Glasgow was second in the hammer, HM Murray, Edinburgh was third in the hop, step and jump  and I McClung, Glasgow, was fifth in the same event.

On 1st June at King’s College, Aberdeen, Edinburgh won the inter-universities title with 77 points to Glasgow’s 72, St Andrews 25 and Aberdeen’s 9.   The women’s contest was also won by Edinburgh with 40 points from St Andrews 39, Glasgow 29 and Aberdeen 8.   JV Paterson set new records for the quarter and half mile events of 48.8 sec and 1:52.8.   WJ More of Glasgow set a ground record of 4:20.8 for the Mile, and A Hannah, Edinburgh, broke DK Gracie’s record for the 440 yards hurdles with a time of 54.1.   In the 120 yards hurdles, J Johnston, Glasgow, equalled the Scottish native record of 15.3 which broke the universities record.   R Scott, Glasgow, won the hammer with 142′ 11″.   HM Murray of Edinburgh had the unusual experience of clearing a better distance than the Scottish native record and not achieving a  universities record!    How did this come about?   When, on 1st July 1958 he triple jumped 14.74 metres, John Keddie, in his Centenary History of the SAAA, gave the reason for Hugh not having been credited with the Native record, which was that although both his parents had been Scottish, Hugh had been born in Wales. The following year the rule governing Scottish Native records were changed. Had the new rule been in force when Hugh covered that distance in 1958 then he would have been credited with the Native record for the triple jump.   Miss D Will of Aberdeen beat her own discus record with 111′ 5″, and Miss S McLeod, Glasgow, beat Miss J Pringle’s record for the shot by 7″ when she threw 30′.    

Among the other winners, Glasgow had a first and second in the Three miles, won by I Asher from D Johnston and the 440 yards hurdles featured two former winners behind Hannah – CAR Dennis was second and A McAdam third. 

The business of breaking records but not getting the recognition continued at the Glasgow Police Sports on 15th June.   “In winning the Scottish one mile medley relay, Edinburgh University put up new record figures of 3 min 27.2 sec.   The foundation of their success was laid by JV Paterson who returned the fast time of 1 min 54.2 sec for the half mile.   The students’ time will not be recognised as a native record as CAR Dennis is not Scottish.   Bellahouston Harriers whose team clocked 3 min 30.2 sec and beat Victoria Park’s previous best time of 3 min 31.7 sec, will be the new record holders.”

Paterson was the headline act in the SAAA Championships the following week in Edinburgh.   “JV Paterson (Edinburgh University) favourite for both 440 yards and half mile, was only a fifth of a second short of equalling the native record of 48.4 sec for the quarter mile standing in the name of Captain Halswell.   Probably if Paterson had not still to compete in the final of the half-mile he would have broken the record.   He completed an afternoon of excessive competition by winning the half mile in a new championship best of 1:53.1 beating by half a second the previous championship record made by JC Stothard at Hampden Park 22 years ago.”

Paterson was known for his very fast first laps and this was in evidence on the first Saturday in August at Ibrox Park in the Rangers Sports.   Lined up in the invitation half mile against English stars Mike Farrell, Derek Johnston, Brian Hewson and Mike Rawson he took them through the first lap in 52 seconds but where the domestic opposition would have been well behind by that time, the four Englishmen were still on his shoulder.  Farrell won in 1:49.2 with the next three given the same time of 1:49.6.   Such was the pace that the first Scot to finish, JR Boyd of Glasgow university in fifth, set a new native record of 1:50.7.    

JR Boyd, Glasgow University, in his Ayr Seaforth club strip

1958 started in May with the Appleton Trophy meeting between Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, held at Westerlands it was a narrow victory for the home team by 97 points to 89.   In the women’s match, Glasgow won comfortably by 42 to 26.   The match was notable for the first appearance in a Glasgow University strip of John McIsaac who won the 440 yards in 49.5 seconds which was a ground record.   It had been expected that JV Paterson would have made a real contest of it but, suffering from a pulled thigh muscle,  the Edinburgh man could not run.   JTA Johnstone won three events – high jump, long jump and 120y hurdles with the hurdles time of 15.5 being his best.   It was a hard fought race with A Hannah (Edinburgh) being first over the final hurdle and Johnstone surging past him almost on the line.   Edinburgh in the form J Sutherland won both sprints with JGR Robertson of Glasgow being second.   R Paterson of Glasgow won the half mile in 1:59.5 but the Mile was a hard fought race between Adrian Jackson and W J More – Jackson just got home ahead in 4:20.5.   The women’s events were reported to be of a moderate standard but C Martin and N Fraser gained doubles for Glasgow – Martin in the 80m hurdles and long jump and Fraser in the shot putt and javelin.   On the same day, St Andrews beat Aberdeen at St Andrews in both the men’s and women’s matches – the men by 81 to 33, and the women by 49 to 18.   There were two match records set -D Carter in the Mile in 4:25.3 and I Docherty in the Three Miles in 15:02.3.   

Glasgow won at Westerlands the following Saturday too, when they defeated Queen’s Belfast, and St Andrews with three of their men scoring double victories.   One was new boy McIsaac who won the 100 yards (10.5) and 220 yards (22.7) with JL Graham of Queen’s taking the 440 in 52 seconds dead.   JTA Johnstone won the 120 hurdles (15.7) and high jump (5′ 9″), and I McLune won the long jump (21′ 5 1/2″) and hop, step and jump (44′ 8 1/2″).   Stan Horn (Glasgow) won the Three Miles in 15:01.5 and RA Paterson won the half mile in 1:59.4.   In the women’s events, Martin, Fraser and Menzies of St Andrews all achieved doubles with R Menzies’ being the sprint double.   

In the Universities Athletic Union championships at Cardiff on 17th May, John McIsaac had a brilliant run to win the 440 yards in 49.4 in ‘a gusty wind and constant drizzle’ .   The time was only 1 second outside Arthur Wint’s record for the championships.   Top make it even better for the Scots Hay of Edinburgh finished third.  Adrian Jackson was narrowly beaten by Bruce Tulloh – he challenged for the lead four times on the final lap but couldn’t quite get there    Glasgow only had two women representing them, but between them Misses C Martin and N Fraser garnered enough points to finish third in the team competition.    Back at home, St Andrews took on Shettleston and Edinburgh Southern in a triangular match at Barrachnie in Glasgow where their top performers were A Duncan who won the B races at 100y and 220, RK Carruthers who won the 120y hurdles, M Denny who won the high jump, C McDonald who won the javelin, and they also won the medley relay race.

John McIsaac

“St Andrews University with 42 points beat Jordanhill Training College, 38, and Pitreavie, 4, in a triangular contest at Jordanhill.   Four events had to be abandoned because of the rain.   St Andrews and Jordanhill each won six events, but the University had more minor placings.   CF Riach, Jordanhill, was the most successful athlete with firsts in the javelin and discus and a second in the shot putt – won with a distance he has often beaten.   One of the most notable competitors apart from Riach was A McAdam (St Andrews) who easily won the 440 yards hurdles in the good time of 57.8 sec.”

The university winners were W McDonald, 100 yards in 10.4 sec, A Barrie, Mile in 4 min 46 sec and Three Miles in 15:19.5, M Denny, long jump 20′ 4″, and L McDonald, shot putt of 39′ 6 1/2″.  

The Edinburgh University championships were also held at the end of May in heavy rain but it didn’t prevent Adrian Jackson setting a meeting record for the Three Miles of 14:29, HM Murray added 4 1/2″ to his own record for the hop, step and jump,  and S Nealey, a student from Idaho, broke the discus record  with a throw of 141′ 9 ” but it was not near the club record because HL Duguid had recorded 155′ 3″ in 1951.  J Sutherland won both sprints, EL Hay won the 440, WH Watson won the half mile in 1:585, MG Elder took the Mile in 4:24, and A Hannah won both hurdles races.

In the West District championships on 31st May McIsaac won the 440 yards in 48.8, only 0.4 sec slower than Halswell’s record for the distance.   Jackson and Hannah both won races at the East championships and helped the University to lift the trophy for the club with most points.   

They also won the Rosebery Bowl for most points in the Scottish University championships on Saturday 7th June.   They had 95 points to Glasgow’s 57 in the men’s competition and Glasgow won the women’s competition with 34 to 27.  Again the Mile produced a good race between Jackson and More with Jackson winning in a new meeting record of 4:16.2.   Jackson later won the Three Miles from Stan Horn of Glasgow.   McIsaac continued his unbeaten run with ease in 49.6.   There were many familiar faces among the winners – DWR McKenzie won the javelin, JTR Johnstone won the 120y hurdles and high jump, HM Murray won the hop. step and jump and there were some new ones as well – Nealey won the discus for example.   On the women’s side of things, R Menzies of St Andrews won both sprints and C Martin won 80m hurdles and long jump. 

McIsaac had a wonderful run at the Glasgow Police Sports at Ibrox Park on 14th June when he broke Halswell’s record for the 440 yards exactly 50 years after it had been set, and on the same track.   Where he had missed it by four tenths earlier in the season, he broke it by four tenths this time.  Leading from Les Locke, an Anglo based in London, he was challenged in the home straight by Donnie McDonald of Garscube but won by 10 yards.  The winning time was exactly 48.0 seconds, and, it not being a a university match, he appeared in the blue and white hoops of Victoria Park.   A moment of triumph but it was followed the next day with misfortune.   He spiked himself running a relay on an Empire Games training day at Redford Barracks.   Taken to hospital for treatment he returned to Redford for the rest of the day.   

Not surprisingly, McIsaac missed the Scottish championships six days later.   Other university athletes performed well though – JTA Johnstone, Glasgow, won the 120y hurdles narrowly from A Hannah, Edinburgh by inches and DWR McKenzie won the javelin.   The team was selected the next day and it contained four Varsity men for the 440 yards – McIsaac, Paterson, RL Hay and R Thomson (Cambridge).   Other university men were Paterson and Locke in the 880, A Hannah for the 440 yards hurdles, HM Murray for hop, step and jump, and Miss AM Ireland for the women’s discus.     There were several men listed as Atalanta but they had not competed in University athletics that year (ECK Douglas, R Scott, etc), and there were more who had been University athletes but were now club members and listed as such.  (AS Dunbar, AJ Wood, etc).   The University presence in the Empire Games team was marked.   

Although all the major championships had taken place, and the Games team had been selected, life went on and at the famed Stewarton Bonnet meeting on 28th June WJ More who was running as a Glasgow University club member, although he was also a member of Kilmarnock Harriers, won the race of the afternoon when he took first place in the half mile where he ran as back marker conceding starts of up to 34 yards.   On the strength of his form in the University matches, he was chosen for the Atalanta v SAAA match the following Tuesday.   

The Empire Games started on 19th July in Cardiff with several Scots in action against many of the world’s very best athletes.   The events and results for the ‘weel kent’ names are below.   Remember that it was a six lane track.

Name event round performance place
AS Dunbar 100y QF 10.0 5th
J McIsaac 440y F 48.9 6th
RL Hay 440y Ht 2 49.9 5th
L Locke 880y F 1:54.7 7th
JV Paterson 880y Ht 2 1:54.4 4th
A Hannah 440y hurdles SF1 53.9 4th
ECK Douglas Hammer final 164'9" 9th
HM Murray Triple Jump QR 45' 4 1/4" 18th
D Will Women's Discus QR 125' 4" 8th
A Ireland W Discus QR 108' 8 1/2" 11th
LA Stevenson W high jump QR 4' 8" 10th

The Rangers Sports were held on 2nd August that year and several athletes used it to turn in best performances. The meeting organisers had many athletes from the Empire Games – countries such as South Africa, Belgium, Canada, Jamaica, Canada, British Guiana and Uganda were all represented.    A Hannah, the hurdler from Edinburgh, ran 53.8 sec for the 440 yards hurdles when finishing third behind Potgieter of South Africa.   The time took 0.5 from David Gracie’s native record.   JR Boyd, now in the RAF, ran an excellent half mile in 1:50.8.   This was only 1 second short of his own native record and seemed to justify the claims for his inclusion in the Empire Games team.  There were several other meetings on that day and John Freebairn was the most successful student at Strathallan Gathering when he won the high jump.   


4th May 1959 saw a change of pattern to the usual Glasgow v Edinburgh on the first Saturday of the month.   Glasgow took n Sheffield University and Edinburgh faced Victoria Park, while Aberdeen and St Andrews met in Aberdeen.   On a day when there was a headwind in the home straight, John McIsaac won the 100 in a slow 10.9 defeating an Englishman who had run 10.0 for the distance, before winning his specialist distance of 440 yards from another Glasgow man, R Galbraith, in 52,5.   He also ran in the 4 x 100 yards relay for the winning team.   Glasgow won 11 of the 15 events on the programme.   Appearing for the first time in the Glasgow was R Mills who won the 440 yards hurdles.  Among the other winning Scots were D Hamilton (880), D Johnston (3 miles), G McLune (long jump and hop. step and jump), J Keating (javelin), and D Bonnar (discus).   In Edinburgh, the University defeated Victoria Park by the unusually wide margin of 71 – 52.   RL Hay for the University won the 220 and 440 hurdles in 23.4 and 52 seconds respectively.   Top man in the field events was Hunter Mabon who won the discus and set a ground record for the shot putt of 45′ 8 1/2″.   Back on the track the closest race was the 440 yards in which R Birrell (VP) ‘lunged over the line and just beat MEL Weir of the University.   

Among the winners were such as a young Alan Houston, a high jumper from Victoria Park who would go n t be an international competitor, Ronnie Whitelock, a stand out Scottish sprinter for many years – also Victoria Park and Adrian Jackson who won the Three Miles.   It was a surprise though to see Tom McNab, ex-Glasgow University and more usually linked with Shettleston Harriers, jumping for the Glasgow club.   

The UAU championships were usually dominated by the English Universities but in 1959 one of the races of the day was the 440 yards where the top English runner was Mike Fleet, an established GB runner.   Herald report:

“McIsaac received stern opposition from another Scot, RL Hay (Edinburgh), who finished second, only one tenth of a second behind.   McIsaac was drawn in the third lane with Hay in the fifth, and after Fleet Loughborough) had looked dangerous on the back straight, McIsaac swept to the front and stayed there although Hay pressed hard.   Scotland had a clean sweep in this event for R Galbraith, Glasgow, finished third in 50.3 in spite of drawing the unfavoured outside lane.”

Adrian Jackson made a very good bid for the Three Miles title – he led from MBS Tulloh with 400 yards to go, but Tulloh stayed within two yards and then sprinted past with 40 yards to go and won by 0.6 seconds in 14:21.   Tulloh’s reputation in Scotland was not a good one – he chose to run for Scotland until the English selectors wanted him when he switched allegiance.   A soldier of fortune.   In the field events, HR Murray did 46′ 4 1/2″ in the triple jump where, although equal in distance to the winner, he was second because his next best was shorter.   Stalker of Glasgow was third.   N McDonald of Edinburgh was third in the hammer.   

Meanwhile back in Scotland, Glasgow beat Aberdeen by 77 to 41 at Westerlands.   Top men were I McPherson (A) in the shot putt, McLeod (A) in the hurdles.   Glasgow won 11 of the 17 events with, for instance, first two places in both 100 and 220 yards.    Watson won the 440, CP Wilson the 880, Stan Horn won the Mile, J Gray the Three Miles, R Mills the 440 yards hurdles, J Addo both high jump and long jump; for Aberdeen I McPherson was the top man winning discus, shot and hammer.

Ian McPherson, Aberdeen

The District championships were held on 30th May, 1959, and McIsaac was one of a select few to retain his title in the West Districts – winning his heat in 51.9 and then the final in 49.4 which were run with a strong wind down the back straight.   R Galbraith of the university was second.   Other Glasgow students to win titles were Bobby Mills in the junior 120y hurdles and the senior 440y hurdles and John Addo in the long jump.   Meanwhile on the east coast, J Sutherland of Edinburgh University won the sprint double, RL Hay won the 440, Adrian Jackson won the Three Miles, all six medals in the hurdles races went to university athletes – the 120y hurdles 1-2-3 were R McLeod (Aberdeen), RT Wright and ID Burns (both Edinburgh), while the first three in the 440 yards hurdles were RL Hay, MEL Weir and G Burns (all Edinburgh).   In the field events, winners from the universities were AD McAdam, Edinburgh) in the long jump and MG Hill (St Andrews) in the pole vault.   

These meetings all led to an excellent day’s sport at the Scottish Universities championships on 6th June at Westerlands:

The meeting trophy for men was won by Edinburgh with 74 1/2 points to Glasgow’s 65, and for women by Glasgow with 46 points to Edinburgh’s 35.   

  •   McIsaac won the 440y by eight yards from RL Hay in 48.6 which was 0.2 inside JV Paterson’s record.   He had already won the 100y  in 10.7 with both first and second (DJ Whyte, St A) being timed at 10.7 sec.
  • Adrian Jackson broke his own meeting record, set in 1954, by 6.8 seconds with 14:44.2.   He had already won the Mile in 4:22.9.
  • Miss D Will (A) won the discus with a new record of 117′ 5 1/2″.   

Other notable title winners were RL Hay who won the 440y hurdles from Mills and Weir in 56 sec and DJ Whyte won the long jump and high jump.   In the women’s events, E Hoggarth (E) won both sprints and C Martin (G) won both long jump and high jump.   

The programme and detailed results can be found at  this link .

On 20th June, Glasgow University finished second to Victoria Park in the SAAA 4  x  100 yards relay before winning the 4    440 yards relay championships at Golden acre.   

McIsaac led a universities clean sweep of the medals in the SAAA championships at the end of the month, with Hay and Galbraith filling the second and third slots, in 48.4 seconds.   There was another such clean sweep in the 120y hurdles with McLeod, Wright and Burns being the first three but there were only two medals in the 440y hurdles – Hay being first and Weir third, separated by Beresford of Airdrie Harriers.   These were the winners but there were many more scattered through the programme picking up seconds and thirds.   

That McIsaac was not invincible was shown one week later when he was beaten in the East  v  West inter-area match.   The winner was WR Galbraith in what was described as the finest win of his career in 49.4 seconds.   He won by 10 yards from McIsaac whose time was only 51.2.   He was described as not moving with his normal fluency and he was absent from the AAA;s championships the following week when the only student to win was DJ Whyte of Dundee Hawkhill in the long jump.   McIsaac took a few weeks off and returned to compete in the invitation quarter mile at the Rangers Sports at Ibrox where he finished second to England’s John Salisbury in 48.4 – four tenths outside his native record.   Galbraith ran a personal best of 49.3 in this event.

Of all the Universities, Edinburgh’s men had been by far the most consistent in track and field throughout the 50’s   while Glasgow women were the most consistent of the teams from the four universities.   Would the same be true in the 1970;s?